As I keep saying, theatre is such a diverse performance platform that can accommodate such a vast amount of art. Such examples include serious dramatic plays, dazzlingly spectacular musicals and engrossing performance poetry. The latter is what this review’s all about: more specifically, Claire Trévien’s exciting performance of her new poetry collection entitled The Shipwrecked House, published and produced by Penned in the Margins.
The Shipwrecked House contains poems that take the reader on a journey through the speaker’s childhood on the coast of Brittany; they’re taken to places within the speaker’s imagination that have been brushed with their memories of the sea and their family. In her performance of the collection, Trévien becomes this speaker and takes the audience on a journey through her exquisitely detailed poems, which are rich with evocative, stimulating images.
When you read poetry, it doesn’t always give you a true sense of character, and you often find yourself being drawn in by the language that the writer uses. Trévien, however, creates a real character that the audience can empathise with and understand in her performance of her collection. She truly speaks to her audience and reels them in with her poems, which become her dialogue throughout the whole piece.
This is to be expected, of course, but what isn’t expected is the simplistic set that allows us to focus on the character. Set designer Gary Campbell has created an accessible, easy to read set that isn’t hard on the eye, and it helps to stimulate our imagination even more. Spattered with a few boxes and billowing sheets, Trévien manipulates her set with ease and brings it alive, just like she does with her intriguing poems. Occasionally the smell of a crisp, fresh ocean breeze fills our nostrils as you’re transported through a constantly changing and unforgiving world, which makes you feel part of it even more.
Ultimately, Trévien has created a short, interesting little piece of theatre that sets the imagination alight with fantastic images that are based on those that hang about in our subconscious and beg to be let out. She cleverly evokes the space around her and brings to our attention a singular voice that you can’t help be drawn towards. The unique blend of theatre and poetry is fresh and original, and makes a real change from other productions on offer at the moment.
The Shipwrecked House played at York St John University on 29 October and is currently on tour throughout the UK. For more information and tickets, visit the Penned in the Margins website.